The passing of two Hall of Famers

Baseball lost two Hall of Famers today. Earl Weaver, former manager of the Baltimore Orioles, and Stan Musial, 24 time all-star for the St. Louis Cardinals, both passed away earlier in the day on Saturday. Musial, nicknamed Stan the Man, is certainly the more well-known of the two. He played his entire career for the St. Louis Cardinals and in addition to those 24 all-star games, Musial was the National League MVP three times, won three World Series championships, seven batting titles, and compiled a life time batting average of .331. Some would argue that Stan the Man was the greatest baseball player ever.

Although not as many people know Earl Weaver, his passing today had the greater impact on me. You see, as a boy growing up in Baltimore in the 1970s, I was a huge fan of Weaver and the Orioles. He was a tremendous manager and his teams, including the 1970 World Series champions, seemed to always be in the pennant chase. As I thought about Earl Weaver today, I thought of the leadership lessons we can learn from his time as manager of the Orioles.

The first thing I remember when I think of Earl Weaver is the passion he had for the game. He had more than a few animated discussions with umpires that showed the team and the Baltimore fans how passionate he was about baseball and the Orioles. We’ve talked on this blog before about the importance of passion and enthusiasm, and Weaver displayed this as the leader of the Orioles. (At times he may have shown too much passion. He was ejected from two games before they ever started; and three times he was ejected from both games of a doubleheader.) If we are not passionate and enthusiastic, how can we expect our teams to be? Enthusiasm is contagious and if we model our passion and enthusiasm for our teams, we’ll see these qualities in them.

The second lesson we can learn from Earl Weaver is how meticulously he prepared for his opponents. Weaver kept books of statistics tracking the match ups of his hitters against opposing pitchers and his pitchers against opposing hitters. He used this information to to make roster decisions to help his team compete more effectively. As leaders, we need to gather information and then use it to improve our decision-making abilities. We will make better decisions if we seek pertinent information and then use it to evaluate the pros and cons of various alternatives.

Finally, Earl Weaver believed in “pitching, defense, and the three-run homer.” Weaver didn’t like the hit-and-run or the sacrifice bunt. He believed these strategies were just playing for one run and why should you play for one run when you can get more? Weaver preferred to be patient and wait for the three-run homer. I call this “thinking big.” And as leaders, we need to think big. We must have big dreams and big visions for our organizations and our teams. Big thoughts get big results. If we think big we can accomplish great things. Earl Weaver taught us that if we think big, we can hit the three-run homer instead of settling for less.

Baseball lost two Hall of Famers today. One was an all-time great player. The other was a great manager who, although not as well known, left a lasting impression on a boy from Baltimore.

Thanks for reading,


6 thoughts on “The passing of two Hall of Famers

    • It must have been a thrill to see Musial play.
      Weaver was always entertaining!
      Thanks for your feedback. It’s always nice to get input from a person I respect and admire so much.

  1. Jim, again, thank you for pointing out what a great leader should have and do: be enthusiastic and passionate; gather information and be strategic; and “think big.” I think the last one is the most challenging. In my previous jobs, I witnessed many plans failed because some “leaders” failed to “think big”. “Think big” is challenging because it requires patience, time and hard work to make careful plans with a long-term vision.

    • Great comment Muriel. Thinking big is very challenging. I think sometimes we get so caught up in the daily tasks and responsibilities that require our attention, we fail to look at the big picture. As you mentioned, Thinking Big requires a long-term vision and also goals that make us reach.
      Thanks for your comments. They always provide additional insight and provoke additional thought.

  2. Hey Jim,
    Another well written and thought out message on two great ball players from earlier era of the national pastime that was perhaps the greatest time to be a baseball fan. I know, I saw Weaver in action hundreds of times in person and Musial was still playing when I was a kid, although I never saw him in person. My only disagreement, somewhat, with your awesome recount and lessons on leadership, both of which I do agree with, is saying Weaver was not as well known. True Stan the Man was a true legend and among the greatest to ever play, but Weaver ranks right up there with the best managers ever. His innovative approach and fiery nature are legendary from the dugout just as much as Musial’s were on the field. If you could see all the passionate comments from baseball people from all parts of the country – like Yogi Berra – about the Earl of Baltimore that have poured in since his passing, including a full page ad from baseball’s commissioner, you might have a better picture of just how beloved, respected, and yes, well known this baseball genius really was. But, I guess being a player, especially one of Musial’s statue does ring a bell with more baseball fans.

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